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Monday, March 23, 2015

RIOC Governance Committee Meeting Today On Distribution Of Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Funds - RIRA Passes Motion In Favor Of RIOC PPF Distribution Claiming Money Is Debt Owed To Community By RIOC, Not A State Grant

As previously reported, the annual distribution of approximately $100 Thousand in Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Purpose Funds

to Roosevelt Island non profit organizations has been jeopardized because of the New York State Authorities Budget Office (ABO) January 13, 2015 Policy Guidance Statement saying in part:
... State and local authorities, as defined by Section 2 of the Public Authorities Law, whether created as public benefit corporations or formed as not- for-profit corporations, have only those powers explicitly granted or necessarily implied by statute. Accordingly, state and local authorities may engage in only those activities and exercise those powers which are expressly authorized in law or which are incidental to performing their statutory purposes.

Authorities Budget Office Policy Guidance: This limitation applies to the power of a state or local authority to award its monies in the form of grants and loans to public or private interests. Such financial assistance is prohibited unless expressly authorized in statute....

... A state or local authority, unless otherwise empowered under the law, may not grant or loan its monies to public or private corporations, private businesses or interests, civic associations, charitable groups, educational institutions, not-for- profit corporations, or any other social, religious, fraternal or cultural organization....

... All state and local authorities which, as a matter of practice or policy, grant or loan their monies to such entities without specific legislative authorization are directed to immediately end such practice or policy so as to comply with applicable state law and the opinions of the State Attorney General and State Comptroller.
The RIOC Governance Committee is meeting today to discuss the issue of Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Funds in view of the ABO Policy Guidance. Here's the Agenda for today's Governance Committee meeting.
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Governance Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Monday, March 23, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.


Discussion of the Authorities Budget Office Guidance No 15-01 "Restrictions on Grants and Loans Made by Public Authorities"

Any Other Committee Business That May be Brought Before the Committee


The Open Meetings Law of the State of New York requires that all public bodies conduct meetings, convened for the purpose of officially conducting public business, in a manner open to attendance by the general public to observe and listen.
The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council discussed RIOC Public Purpose Funds during March 4 meeting. RIRA Governance Committee Chair Joyce Short asserted that RIOC Public Purpose Funds are:
... a debt, not a grant, to the community...
meaning that the ABO Policy Guidance prohibiting grants or loans does not apply to distribution of RIOC Public Purpose Funds to Roosevelt Island non profit organizations.

Ms. Short claimed that RIOC previously "squandered" Public Purpose funds originally provided by Manhattan Park as payments in lieu of taxes.

The Public Purpose Funds discussion begins at the 2 minute mark.

Following the discussion, RIRA passed a resolution in favor of RIOC continuing distribution of Public Purpose Funds.

UPDATE 10 PM - Below is a video except from RIOC Governance committee meeting discussion this evening regarding ABO Policy Guidance on distribution by RIOC of Public Purpose Funds to Roosevelt Island non profit organizations.

In response to my question, RIOC Director Margie Smith answered that RIOC has not received any written instructions from the NY Governor's Office or ABO about the distribution of Public Purpose Funds but believes that the Roosevelt Island Youth Program will receive funding. RIOC President Charlene Indelicato added that RIYP will be funded by RIOC through the end of the year at which time RIOC will probably issue a Request For Proposals for Youth Services.

RIOC does not know if it will be able to distribute funds to Roosevelt Island organizations that have applied for 2015 Public Purpose Funds through the RIRA vetting process.

RIOC Directors discussed the possibility of alternative funding sources for Roosevelt Island non profits organizations including private groups such as Roosevelt Island building owners.

Will have complete report and video soon.

UPDATE 3/24 Full video of Governance Committee meeting here.